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Is it possible to associate "heel" to new harness?!

Discussion in 'Gundogs & Gundog Training' started by Janno735078, Jan 14, 2019.


  1. Janno735078

    Janno735078 PetForums Newbie

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    I don't know if I'm posting his thread in the right place, but we have a 19-month old powerhouse Golden Retriever pet dog who's more from a working line. He's lovely and can be calm at home, but needs his exercise. So with his instincts and love of life, has been pulling on the lead ever since day one. Although he has massively improved using a head collar or a harness that squeezes his armpits(!!!), he would still prefer to charge ahead as much as he can. He's a bit of an obsessive sniffer and a compulsive social butterfly on our walks - I guess he thinks he's leading the "hunt" and we are oh so boring! It doesn't bother my husband or my strong 17-year old lad to charge around the village with our friendly dog, but I'm a bit fed up at being "dragged around" when I take him out for walks. And at 38kg, he's done my back in a couple of times... There's not much loose leash walking, and he's learned to pull with whatever walking restraints that we've bought. I would really like to insist on teaching him to walk to heel, but am aware that it's going to take a long time and a lot of hard work to change the deep-seated bad habits. Plus, it won't be consistent for the dog as no one else in the household is prepared to do the training but would take him out on walks in the current mode.

    Is it possible to train a dog to walk to heel when you give the "heel" command only, and let him go sniff and do doggy stuff at other times, or would it be too confusing for him?

    I also wonder if it's possible, once the dog has got the hang of walking to heel, say at home with a new harness, for him to associate the harness to walking to heel? Even though we may walk the same stretch of road that he's pulled us along for months using the other devices?
     
  2. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    You can start to try to train heel walking. with the new harness but start afresh using a different command to the one he’s currently ignoring. For example, you could use ‘close’ . If you continue to use the same word then he already has pulling associations with it; you could call ‘heel’ a toxic command for your dog now as he’s learned to ignore it when it suits him and would have to ‘unlearn’ this behaviour; double the work.

    It’s quite realistic to expect the walk to heel next to me command to mean also no sniffing, no stopping, and then have another word or phrase (eg ‘go play’ ‘off you go’) to let him know he can wander and sniff.

    I don’t know about the harness being a training aid and signal for him to walk well (after you’ve trained him). I would think not but hopefully somebody else has an answer for that one.
     
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  3. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Yes it should be possible for him to learn to alternate between heel and 'go sniff' you can use 'go sniff' as a reward for a few paces of good heeling.

    However - gundog trainers would not advise that - no sniffing allowed and head up during heelwork.

    I have a brittany who is much smaller than your dog but she also likes to be out in front.

    I founda clicker to be the most effective tool.

    You can keep a specific lead for heelwork and then have a harness that you allow pulling on.

    I used to do that - had one specific lead for heelwork.

    Does your dog walk better at heel off lead? Some do.

    Why not join the heelwork challenge running im dog chat forum just now - very motivating!
     
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  4. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Think we cross posted there @Linda Weasel - that's a good point about using a new word.

    Also important is only saying the new word when the dog is in the correct position. So you could train the correct position using a clicker and then attach the new word.

    If you say your cue word when the dog is ahead - the dog thinks that's what the word means so only say 'close' when the dog is in the correct heel position
     
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  5. Janno735078

    Janno735078 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for all your input. I shall think hard on a plan of campaign...

    How do I find the heelwork challenge you mentioned above? Sorry I'm still finding my way around the forum ;)
     
  6. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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  7. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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  8. Janno735078

    Janno735078 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you Tabelmabel for all the info and taking the time to post! I've had a look at the article above, and thinking about how my dog is, I don't think he can be dragged away from sniffing without using aversives. Although having said that, my husband does this "One... Two... Three" thing like with kids, where on "Three" you give the lead a jerk and we move on. Amazingly, 8 times out of 10, Brett hurries up and pees before we get to "Three"!

    I think heelwork will have to go on the backburner, because I'm concentrating on Recall at the moment. I'm just having a think about possibilities for future reference! Brett can do clicker stuff, and if he gets it, it's really quick, but it can take a long time before the penny drops!!! :confused:
     
  9. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    This works perfectly well tbh...Not jerking the leash (especially if attached to a collar) BUT what I do in the beginning stages (before I have built up a "lets go cue") is release the dog to sniff with a "Go sniff" cue and if we need to move on for any reason I run my hand down the leash whilst saying "We are going in 3....2.....1" when I get to one my hand is on the collar so I can lift the head and move along.

    In all honesty that is no worse than stopping a dog from walking across a road when they want or stopping a dog eating something that they really shouldn't...both could be considered aversive and punishing to the dog, but you don't find people saying that they shouldn't stop their dog from crossing the road when they want to because it could be aversive :)

    What I would suggest is to teach him how to give to leash pressure so that when he hits the end of the leash he understands what you want...It is possible to get him to walk well on the leash with you even if other family members aren't on board...it will take time but he will get it :)
    This is how I teach giving to pressure
     
  10. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    If it helps Op: You need four commands, that can be rewarded, in most lead-walking scenarios.

    Go play, or similar ‘release’ command.
    Leave it/Off
    Recall command.
    Walk to heel command.

    Mostly these can even be practised as separate exercises in the home.
     
  11. Janno735078

    Janno735078 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks StormyThai for this suggestion - I haven't come across this. I have taught Brett to come around when I dig my heels in and stop, but then he doesn't get that when he charges ahead again, the same thing happens. He does, however, slow down and look at me like I've lost the plot if I change direction :) Now I don't mind looking like an idiot around the village, but I still need to get somewhere and get home sometimes, so I can't keep changing directions! Maybe it's possible for Brett to distinguish a normal walk and a training walk, as suggested by this trainer who I like... incidentally, my dog is just like the one in the video when he sees another person or dog, but he won't give us any attention at all!

     
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